Q: What is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

A: Amazon FSx for Windows File Server provides a fully managed native Microsoft Windows file system so you can easily move your Windows-based applications that require file storage to AWS.

Built on Windows Server, Amazon FSx provides shared file storage with the compatibility and features that your Windows-based applications rely on, including full support for the SMB protocol and Windows NTFS, Active Directory (AD) integration, and Distributed File System (DFS). Amazon FSx uses SSD storage to provide the fast performance your Windows applications and users expect, with high levels of throughput and IOPS, and consistent sub-millisecond latencies.

With Amazon FSx, you can launch highly durable and available Windows file systems that can be accessed from up to thousands of compute instances using the industry-standard SMB protocol. Amazon FSx eliminates the typical administrative overhead of managing Windows file servers.

Q: What is an Amazon FSx for Windows File Server file system, and what is a file share?

A: A file system is the primary resource in Amazon FSx. It’s where you store and access your files and folders. It is associated with a storage amount and a throughput capacity, as well as a DNS name for accessing it.

A file share is a specific folder (and its subfolders) within your file system that you make accessible to your compute instances – every file system comes with a default Windows file share, named “share” and you can create and manage as many other Windows file shares as you’d like.

Q: How do I get started with FSx for Windows File Server?

A: To use Amazon FSx, you must have an AWS account. If you do not already have an AWS account, you can sign up for an AWS account.

Once you have created an AWS account, you can create a file system via the AWS Management Console, the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), and Amazon FSx API (and various language-specific SDKs).

Q: What instance types and OS versions can I access my file system from?

A: By supporting the SMB protocol, Amazon FSx can connect your file system to Amazon EC2, VMware Cloud on AWS, Amazon WorkSpaces, and Amazon AppStream 2.0 instances. To ensure compatibility with your applications, Amazon FSx supports all Windows versions starting from Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7, and current versions of Linux (using the cifs-utils tool).

Q: How do I access data on my Amazon FSx file system?

A: From within Windows, use the “Map Network Drive” feature to map a drive letter (e.g., Z:) to a file share on your Amazon FSx file system. You can also access your file system from Linux using the cifs-utils tool to mount your file share. Once you've done this, you can work with the files and folders in your Amazon FSx file system just like you would with a local file system.

Q: How do I manage a file system?

A: Amazon FSx is a fully-managed service, so all of the file storage infrastructure is managed for you. When you use Amazon FSx, you avoid the complexity of deploying and maintaining complex file system infrastructure.

You can administer a file system via the AWS Management Console, the AWS command-line interface (CLI), or the Amazon FSx API (and various language-specific SDKs). The Console, API, and SDK provide the ability to create and delete file systems, create and delete backups, create and edit file system tags, and display detailed information about file systems and backups.

Q: How do I migrate my existing file data into an Amazon FSx file system?

A: To migrate your existing file data into Amazon FSx, use Windows’s Robust File Copy (RoboCopy) to copy your files (both the data and the full set of metadata like ownership and Access Control Lists) directly to Amazon FSx. The RoboCopy tool performs the copy in entirety (including all metadata like ACLs, ownership, and time stamps), efficiently (with parallel copy) and reliably (by recovering from interruptions like network outages).

Q: How do I monitor my file system’s activity?

A: You can log all Amazon FSx API calls using AWS CloudTrail.

Q: What workloads is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server designed for?

A: Amazon FSx was designed for a broad set of use cases that require Windows shared file storage, like CRM, ERP, and.NET applications, home directories, data analytics, media and entertainment workflows, web serving and content management, and software build environments.

Q: When should I use Amazon FSx Windows File Servers vs. Amazon EFS vs. Amazon FSx for Lustre?

A: For your applications that need to be highly available and that rely on shared file storage, AWS offers two file system services. If you have Windows-based applications, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server provides fully managed Windows file servers with features and performance optimized for these applications. It is accessible from Windows and Linux instances via the SMB protocol. If you have Linux-based applications, Amazon EFS is a cloud-native fully managed file system that provides simple, scalable, elastic file storage for these applications. It is accessible from Linux instances via the NFS protocol.

For compute-intensive workloads, like high performance computing, machine learning, EDA, and media processing, Amazon FSx for Lustre, provides a file system that’s optimized for the performance and cost of short-lived, compute-intensive processing jobs, with input and output stored on Amazon S3.

Q. Does Amazon FSx support access from my on-premises environment?

A: Yes, you can access Amazon FSx file systems from your on-premises environment using an AWS Direct Connect or AWS VPN connection between your on-premises datacenter and your Amazon VPC. With support for AWS Direct Connect, Amazon FSx allows you to access your file system over a dedicated network connection from your on-premises environment. With support for AWS VPN, Amazon FSx allows you to access your file system from your on-premises devices over a secure and private tunnel.

With on-premises access, you can use Amazon FSx for hosting user shares accessible by on-premises end-users, for cloud bursting workloads to offload your application processing to the cloud, and for backup and disaster recovery solutions. For more information, see Accessing Amazon FSx from on-premises.

Q. Does Amazon FSx support access from multiple VPCs, accounts, and regions?

A: Yes, you can access your Amazon FSx file systems from multiple Amazon VPCs, AWS accounts, and AWS Regions using VPC Peering connections or AWS Transit Gateway. A VPC Peering connection is a networking connection between two VPCs that enables you to route traffic between them. A transit gateway is a network transit hub that you can use to interconnect your VPCs. With VPC Peering and AWS Transit Gateway, you can even interconnect VPCs across AWS accounts and AWS Regions.

With access to your file systems via VPC Peering and Transit Gateway, you can share your file data sets across users and applications in multiple VPCs, AWS accounts, and/or AWS Regions. For more information, see Accessing Amazon FSx from multiple VPCs, accounts or regions.

Q: What regions is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server available in?

A: Please refer to Regional Products and Services for details of Amazon FSx for Windows File Server service availability by region.

Q: Does Amazon FSx offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?

A: Yes. The Amazon FSx SLA provides for a service credit if a customer's monthly uptime percentage is below our service commitment in any billing cycle.

Scale and performance

Q: What performance does FSx for Windows File Server provide?

A: FSx for Windows File Server uses high-performance SSD storage to provide consistent sub-millisecond latencies for file operations.

Every Amazon FSx file system has a throughput capacity that you configure when the file system is created. This throughput capacity determines the baseline and burst speeds at which the Windows file server hosting your file system can serve file data.

When creating a file system in the Amazon FSx console, it automatically recommends a throughput capacity for your file system.

If you want to select a specific throughput capacity, you can pick from the following.

Throughput capacity specified (MBps)

8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1,024 2,048
Baseline throughput (MBps) 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1,024 2,048
Burst throughput (MBps) 192 192 192 256 438 438 - - -

Depending on your workload’s access patterns, you may observe even higher levels of throughput (between 600 MBps and 3 GBps) by benefiting from in-memory caching on the Windows file server.

Q: How much data can I store on Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

A: You can run up to thousands of Amazon FSx for Windows File Server file systems in your account, with each file system having up to 64 TB of data. To unify your data from multiple file systems into one common folder structure, Amazon FSx supports the use of Microsoft’s Distributed File System (DFS) to organize shares into a single folder structure up to hundreds of PB in size.

Q: How do I scale out performance across multiple file systems? 

A: Amazon FSx supports the use of Microsoft’s Distributed File System (DFS) for scaling out performance across multiple file systems up to tens of GBps and millions of IOPs.

Security and compliance

Q: How does Amazon FSx integrate with Active Directory (AD)?

A: Amazon FSx works with Microsoft Active Directory (AD) to integrate with your existing Windows environments. When creating a file system with Amazon FSx, you join it to your Microsoft AD -- either an AWS Managed Microsoft AD or your self-managed Microsoft AD. Your users can then use their existing AD-based user identities to authenticate themselves and access the Amazon FSx file system, and to control access to individual files and folders.

Q: What access control capabilities does Amazon FSx provide?

A: Amazon FSx provides standard Windows permissions (full support for Windows Access Controls ACLS) for files and folders.

You specify the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) in which your file system is made accessible, and you control which resources within the VPC have access to your file system using VPC Security Groups.

You control who can administer your file system and backup resources (create, delete, etc.) using AWS IAM.

Q: Does Amazon FSx for Windows File Server support data encryption?

A: Yes. Amazon FSx for Windows File Server always encrypts your file system data and your backups at-rest using keys you manage through AWS Key Management Service (KMS). Amazon FSx encrypts data-in-transit using SMB Kerberos session keys, when you access your file system from clients that support SMB 3.0 (and higher).

Q:  What compliance programs does Amazon FSx support?

A: AWS has the longest-running compliance program in the cloud and are committed to helping customers navigate their requirements. Amazon FSx has been assessed to meet global and industry security standards. It complies with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, 27001, 27017, and 27018), and SOC 1, 2, and 3, in addition to being HIPAA eligible. That makes it easier for you to verify our security and meet your own obligations. For more information and resources, visit our compliance pages. You can also go to the Services in Scope by Compliance Program page to see a full list of services and certifications.

Availability and durability

Q: What does Amazon FSx for Windows File Server do to ensure high availability and durability?

A: To ensure high availability and durability, Amazon FSx automatically replicates your data within the Availability Zone (AZ) it resides in (which you specify during creation) to protect it from component failure, continuously monitors for hardware failures, and automatically replaces infrastructure components in the event of a failure. Amazon FSx also takes highly durable backups (stored in S3) of your file system daily using Windows’s Volume Shadow Copy Service, and allows you to take additional backups at any point

Q: How do I deploy multi-AZ file systems with Amazon FSx?

A: For workloads that require multi-AZ redundancy to tolerate temporary AZ unavailability, you can create multiple file systems in separate AZs, keep them in sync, and configure failover between them, using Amazon FSx for Windows File Server’s support for Microsoft’s Distributed File System (DFS) Replication and Namespace features. DFS Replication allows you to automatically replicate data between two file systems, and DFS Namespace allows you to configure automatic failover.

Q: How does Amazon FSx keep Windows Server software up to date?

A: Amazon FSx performs routine software updates for the Windows Server software it manages. The maintenance window is your opportunity to control what day and time of the week this software patching occurs. Patching occurs infrequently, typically once every several weeks, and should require only a fraction of your 30-minute maintenance window. During these few minutes of time, your file system will be temporarily unavailable.

Data protection

Q: How does Amazon FSx enable me to protect my data?

A: Beyond automatically replicating your file system's data to ensure high durability, Amazon FSx provides you with two options to further protect the data stored on your file systems: Windows shadow copies to enable your end-users to easily undo file changes and compare file versions by restoring files to previous versions, and backups to support your backup retention and compliance needs.

Q: How do my end-users restore files to previous versions?

A: Amazon FSx supports file- or folder-level restores to previous versions by supporting Windows shadow copies, which are snapshots of your file system at a point in time. With shadow copies enabled, your end-users can view and restore individual files or folders from a prior snapshot with the click of a button in Windows File Explorer. Storage administrators using Amazon FSx can easily schedule shadow copies to be taken periodically using Windows PowerShell commands.

Q: How do I take backups on Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

A: Creating regular backups for your file system is a best practice that complements the replication that Amazon FSx performs for your file system. Working with Amazon FSx backups is easy, whether it's creating backups, restoring a file system from a backup, or deleting a backup.

Amazon FSx takes daily automatic backups of your file systems, and allows you to take additional backups at any point. Amazon FSx backups are incremental, which means that only the changes after your most recent backup are saved, thus saving on backup storage costs by not duplicating data.

Q: What durability and consistency does Amazon FSx provide for backups?

A: With Amazon FSx, backups are file-system-consistent and highly durable. To ensure file-system-consistency, Amazon FSx uses Windows’s Volume Shadow Copy Service, allowing you to restore to a point in time snapshot of your file system. To ensure high durability, Amazon FSx stores backups in Amazon S3.

Q: What is the daily backup window?

A: The daily backup window is a 30-minute window that you specify when creating a file system. Amazon FSx takes the daily automatic backup of your file system during this window. At some point during the daily backup window, storage I/O might be suspended briefly while the backup process initializes (typically under a few seconds).

Q: What is the daily backup retention period?

A: The daily backup retention period specified for your file system (7 days by default) determines the number of days your daily automatic backups are kept.

Q: What happens to my backups if I delete my file system?

A: When you delete your file system, all automatic daily backups associated with the file system are deleted. Any user-initiated backups you created will remain.

Pricing and billing

Q: How will I be charged and billed for my use of Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

A: You pay only for the resources you use. You are billed hourly for your file systems, based on their configured storage capacity (priced per GB-month) and throughput capacity (priced per MBps-month). You are also billed hourly for your backup storage (priced per GB-month). For pricing information, please visit the Amazon FSx pricing page.

Q: Do your prices include taxes?

A: Except as otherwise noted, our prices are exclusive of applicable taxes and duties, including VAT and applicable sales tax. For customers with a Japanese billing address, use of AWS services is subject to Japanese Consumption Tax. Learn more.

Learn more about pricing

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server has simple pricing; you pay only for the resources you use.  

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